United Autosports will not take part in October’s Motul Petit Le Mans as initially planned, with the Anglo-American squad also set to forgo next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring amid IMSA’s restructured prototype format.
Team co-owner Richard Dean explained that the recently announced LMP2 class spinoff, which will put DPis in a new single-platform top category, played an indirect role in the UK-based team’s decision to withdraw from the 10-hour enduro, which comes at a “congested period” in its global operations.
The team confirmed a full-season Asian Le Mans Series program in late June with two Ligier JS P3 Nissans and a pair of Ligier JS P2 Nissans leased from Onroak Automotive, an effort that was guided by the prospect of IMSA splitting its Prototype class.
“We couldn’t do it because of a congested period around [Petit Le Mans],” Dean told Sportscar365.
“We intended to do it at the beginning of the year but the knock-on effect of IMSA splitting the classes meant that we changed our mind to go to Daytona and Sebring.
“Because that took our December-January-February program away, we were looking at what we could do because we always want to be active.
“So we looked at the Asian Le Mans Series and committed to that.”
Dean stressed that United’s early-season Balance of Performance concerns played no part in its decision to skip the final round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup
Both Dean and United driver Paul di Resta were critical of IMSA’s handling of the BoP after DPi cars dominated the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, but he told Sportscar365 that those initial sentiments had been eased by recent victories by LMP2 cars in the series.
The U.S.-based Ligier that United used for the opening three Patron Endurance Cup races has since returned to the UK for testing purposes.
United Targeting Future DPi Program
Despite its exit from the next three Endurance Cup rounds, Dean said it’s not the end of its IMSA ambitions, with the team targeting a return in 2020 with a DPi program.
While supporting IMSA’s decision to split the class, Dean said the economics of a DPi, which can fight for overall wins, makes more financial sense.
“It’s hard to do it in an LMP2 because the costs are the same, but trying to raise the money for not having the opportunity to take the checkered flag [overall], changes our view that we’ve probably got to do a DPi program,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot written about ‘United are doing DPi’. No, United want to go DPi. It isn’t next year because the Roar is in a few months time. Is it 2020? That’s a target.
“It’s definitely a target and if we started working now, and we have 12 months on it, then I’ll know whether I can pull something off.”
Dean said “anything’s open” for 2020, including working with a new or existing manufacturer.
Team co-owner Zak Brown, who is the executive director at McLaren, has previously stated interest from McLaren’s perspective in a potential DPi project.
“What I’m telling you is that I want to do DPi,” Dean said. “I haven’t got a deal on the table that’s even moving close or whatever. I’m working on it.”
John Dagys contributed to this report